Tonga battle-hardened for U-17

The warm-up match was held at Auckland’s Ngahue Reserve during Tonga’s stopover in Auckland on route to Rarotonga, where the OFC U-17 Women’s Championship is being held from 13-23 January.
Kurangaituku opened the scoring on three minutes, taking advantage of a sluggish start from Tonga.
But the visitors hit back just after 20 minutes, with striker Mele Akolo – who was a member of the Tonga U-20 side which competed at the 2015 OFC U-20 Women’s Championship in October – drawing the keeper out of her box before finishing in the corner.
Down 2-1 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the first-half, Tonga was then awarded a free kick which Seini Lutu curled home to lock scores at 2-2 going into the break.
Tonga dominated much of the second half, taking the lead and impressing the local crowd with some individual skill.
But in the end they couldn’t hold on and the home side netted late to secure a 3-3 draw.
Tonga coach Tiane Koaneti says the result was pleasing, but that plenty of room for improvement remains.
“Our performance was not perfect but I am satisfied with the result,” Koaneti says.
“Now I have fair idea of who our starting 11 will be for our first game in Rarotonga, and that was a big reason behind why we played the game in Auckland.”
The Tonga squad arrive in the Cook Islands today ahead of their opening game on 13 January against New Caledonia, which kicks off at 14h30 local time.
Tonga have been drawn in Group A alongside New Caledonia, Samoa and defending champions New Zealand.
For more on Tonga football go to www.tongafootball.to


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